On 11 December 2020 Environment Centre NT made a submission to the Pastoral Land Board in relation to the application to clear pastoral land on Ucharonidge Station.
A summary of the submission is below or download the full submission here.
Environment Centre NT notes that this is the second land clearing application of approximately 5000ha submitted by Cleveland Agriculture for Ucharonidge Station this year, creating a total cleared area of approximately 10,000ha where the proponent intends to grow cotton and sorghum “to achieve a viable commercial operation”. It is thus a very large project, involving significant land clearing of part of the Mitchell Grass Downs bioregion, and utilising a large number of toxic pesticides for a crop (cotton) which is untested on such a large scale in the Northern Territory. The public is largely unaware of this proposal, its scale, or its possible environmental impacts. Public commentary about cotton in the Northern Territory in recent years has largely been confined to discussions of the results of a number of trials in the Douglas Daly and Katherine areas. The production of cotton on the scale proposed at Ucharonidge (and elsewhere in the Northern Territory) does not have a social licence to operate in the Northern Territory, and requires close public and environmental scrutiny. ECNT notes with concern that a similar project by the same proponent in Western Australia (in respect of GoGo Station) required environmental impact assessment under both Western Australian and Commonwealth environmental laws. If the land clearing permit is approved as is, this may undermine the legitimacy and reputation of the Pastoral Land Board – and the Northern Territory Government more broadly - as an appropriate regulator of the Northern Territory pastoral estate and the environmental impacts caused by proposed cotton diversification across the Northern Territory.
Environment Centre NT believes the Application should be refused, or alternatively the proponent’s operation as a whole should be referred for public environmental impact assessment under the Environment Protection Act 2019 (NT) and Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) before any decision is made about the Application. The reasons for refusal and/or referral are detailed below.